Can you give us an intro into the latest developments at Lightning Box in North America?
MM: We’re definitely interested in getting more content flowing out to new markets. So Pennsylvania, they launched online gaming last year and we are looking to launch in their online casinos this year, via our platform partner Scientific Games. Towards the end of last year, we had our first release into the Canadian market via Loto-Québec (LQ). This year, we’re targeting Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) and British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).
How big is the Canadian market? We don’t hear as much about it compared to the US.
MM: Well, there are advantages to that. You don’t have the abundance of suppliers you currently have in the European market. With Canada, they are a state (province) run affair & quite selective with their licensing partners.
ML: With the likes of BCLC, LQ and ALC, you’ve almost got that ring-fenced market and a captive audience. If you can get into working with those companies, there are some big numbers there – BCLC are competing with the likes of Sky Vegas. There are the likes of Ontario’s OLG as well.
MM: Yes, there are mini markets in Canada. For us, it’s important we get our foot in the door at the right time & make our mark with our style of game. For us, it’s a big deal to get our licensee and move into the markets that are opening.
ML: LQ is great; we’ve got games live with them. BCLC we’re just emerging with a license soon and hopefully we’ll have 10 games live there in the next 12 months. There’s a lot of opportunity in Canada, for sure.
What are your general goals, including Canada, for 2020?
MM: We want to diversify our game mechanics and bring in a bit more innovation. We want to look at new, refreshed concepts that are unique in the market, that can really take off and put a footprint in the market. It’s always good to diversify and look at ways of improving yourself. We’re primarily a game design studio, so that’s our bread and butter and that’s what we focus on. This is what we need to do to be in line with the market and deliver exciting games for our clients players.
ML: This year, we’re showing games to operators and getting positive feedback different themes, different new game mechanics. Some of our Lightning and Jackpot games have done really well. Sometimes games can have a very same-y feel but we want to get new ideas out there.If your game is a success, you can do a second integration. But then if you do a third one and so forth, by the sixth integration operators will feel it’s more of the same. You don’t want to innovate too much as you could go too far away from your core values. We say keep it 60% core and try and innovate 20/30%, 10% keeping the UI the same.
How much momentum is there in US online gaming, taking into account any Wire Act-related uncertainty?
MM: Once New Jersey started, we knew there was going to be that domino effect. You’re going to see other markets open up: Pennsylvania online casino next, you’ll probably look at Michigan later –. Eventually, with the combination of sportsbook being legislated for in the US, we’re going to see more states open up to online casino also. We aim establish ourselves early in the Nth American online casino market.
The European market is still significant to us at the moment but we have to make sure we are aware of the other online gaming markets and opportunities available to us. We want to cover all areas and all markets we are permitted to go into.We already have a presence in the US market through land-based & social casinos, so that makes the transition a lot easier. A lot of the players based in the US still relate to the land-based look and feel of a game.
What would you say is Lightning Box’s key focus this year?
MM: We still want to be a reputable supplier out there, producing good games, having operators still recognize us as a key supplier they want to work with. So it’s important for us to maintain relationships and build a rapport with new operators; that’s why we’re here at ICE London.
ML: We’re a games studio so our main thing this year is the new games, new themes and new mechanisms we are getting out to operators as far and wide as we can. We are targeting new territories and this year trying a few new things, while trying to expand into Canada. So new games, new territories.